Someone Else’s Garden is a thought provoking story with a powerful and precise writing with both shocks and awes at the same time.
Shocks because what a low caste female faces stoically in a small backward village is unbelievable and seems unreal to someone who has never seen such things happen at close quarters. Awes because this character chooses to buck the trend, and carve a new life for her in spite of adversities.
The book reminds me very strongly of Village by The Sea- Anita Desai as far as the story line is concerned- how a small village family goes with the flow and builds a new life for themselves when progress in the name of a large factory that takes away their lands comes to their sleepy village.
Except that this book touches the most shameful aspect of human existence.
To deal with a story that covers a backward village life, one has to touch upon the little matter of excretion arrangements. To me it was necessary to touch upon but at times it became overkill to the point of becoming disgusting especially towards the end of the book. Progress could have been depicted in other ways instead of mentioning the new place where the protagonist relieves herself.
I spent an entire day of travel on this book- this speaks for itself- it was a book that kept me hooked but I felt the story took ages to roll in the first section. The book picks up pace after the first section and it is heartening to see the protagonist and the allied characters moving towards making a better life for themselves.
The story throws light upon how one survives despite all odds- be it natural calamities like drought, famine or man made ones like torture, poverty and loans. Survival of the fittest could be one of the messages in the story.
Mamta, is the oldest daughter of 7 children of Lata Bai and Seeta Ram. Despised by her father for being a girl and thereby a burden to him as he is watering someone else’s garden and making her ready to be married off. To him she serves no purpose.
The village has a big house consisting of Singh sahaba nd his 2 sons- Lokend the politician and philanthropist and Ram Singh who takes care of the money lending business.
Within the melee of characters there is also the story of Daku Manhmohan who surrenders on the insistence of Lokend and thereby both receive lot of mileage.
Mamta’s brother works in the big house to pay off the loan taken for her marriage.
Mamta gets married to a widower and all her dreams of a happy marriage shatters when she faces torture after torture at the hands of her husband. Matters become unbearable when Mamta realizes her husband intends to sell her second kidney as well. She escapes to the city with the help of her brother & Lokend and eventually finds a job as a sweeper in the D’Souza home.
Fear of being sold to the brothel, Mamta’s sister Sneha follows suit and Prem her brother comes to city to become a mechanic.
The 3 siblings make a life for their own and circumstances bring Lokend and Mamta together.
But Mamta yearns for her village and there is a strong urge for her to go back and rebuild her life there. Will she be able to take that step? What life awaits for her back in the village? Will the village see the light of progress?
Of course it will all happen but it is very important to observe that it is not one force that drives the change. It is a domino effect of the individuals whoa re yearning to break free.